The 2018 NFL rookie class has me excited. There are a ton of talented players who can and will change the face of the league forever. Not every one of them will show their true talent right away, but a couple rookies wasted no time showing off in Week 1. These were the rookies that impressed me and fans the most in the first week of the NFL regular season.
Denzel Ward CB, Cleveland Browns
6 combined tackles, 3 passes defensed, 2 interceptions
Ward came up big for the Browns in their home opener, picking off two of Big Ben’s passes. Unfortunately, the Browns offense wasn’t able to capitalize on all of the turnover the defense created.
Fred Warner LB, San Francisco 49ers
12 combined tackles, 1 pass defensed
Warner didn’t get a lot of hype before the draft and fell to the third round where the 49ers were all too happy to take him. They secured themselves a high-volume tackler for the foreseeable future.
Saquon Barkley RB, New York Giants
18 attempts, 106 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown
Barkley started off slow and was bottled up by the Jaguars for a while. That didn’t last though, and he busted a 68-yard touchdown run that contributed the most to his 106 total rushing yards. He added 22 receiving yards.
Mike Hughes CB, Minnesota Vikings
3 combined tackles, 3 passes defensed, 1 interception, 1 defensive touchdown
The Vikings have been drafting cornerbacks like crazy for the last few years. Hughes seems to be an early success, getting a pick six in his very first game in the league.
Justin Evans S, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
5 combined tackles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 defensive touchdown
Evans was the beneficiary of a Mike Gillislee fumble. He scooped the ball up and returned it for a defensive touchdown.
Tremaine Edmunds LB, Buffalo Bills
7 combined tackles, 1 sack, 2 passes defensed, 1 forced fumble
There’s a reason why Edmunds was a first round pick. He put up a fairly complete game for the Bills, unfortunately the rest of the team didn’t share in his success.
Will Dissly TE, Seattle Seahawks
3 receptions, 105 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown
He’s usually looked at as a blocking tight end. In fact, that’s what most people expected him to be doing on Sundays. Maybe that’s why he was able to catch three passes for over 100 yards against the Broncos.
Roquan Smith LB, Chicago Bears
3 combined tackles. 1 sack
Smith’s numbers don’t jump off the page, but remember he was limited to a snap count in his Sunday night performance because he reported later to the team than most other players. Early signs look good and the Bears might have yet another great middle linebacker.
Royce Freeman RB, Denver Broncos
15 attempts, 71 rushing yards, 4.7 yards per carry
Freeman is another really talented player who fell to the third round of the draft. He was a fantastic player at Oregon in college and had a strong first showing for his new team.
Phillip Lindsay RB, Denver Broncos
15 attempts, 71 rushing yards, 2 receptions, 31 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown
He was an undrafted free agent. UNDRAFTED. Yet he kept pace with Freeman, quite literally, and has now given the Broncos yet another offensive threat to complement their growing arsenal.
Sam Darnold QB, New York Jets
198 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 1 interception, 76.2 Comp %, 116.8 rating
Darnold’s first NFL pass was a pick-six. Luckily for him things could only get better from there. He helped guide the Jets to a win, supported by a dominant showing from the defense.
Derwin James S, Los Angeles Chargers
3 combined tackles, 1 sack, 2 passes defensed
James has been hyped up as the league’s next ultra-dynamic safety. We got a brief view of that on Sunday getting to see him in pass defense and rushing the passer.